Created By: University of Virginia
I was born in the city of Richmond and grew up in the grass. My parents, recent immigrants to the United States, used nature as my playground when I was young. One of my favourite spots as a kid was Texas Beach- a hiking area on the James River named for the city street leading right up to the riverbank.
To access Texas Beach, you walk climb across roots of dense trees, cross a wooden bridge over trail tracks, descend a muraled tower, and trek through trails that pass the water. At the end of the trail lies a serene lagoon surrounded by leafy vegetation where you can hear the clear rhythm of the James River rapids. When I was a child my parents and I used to walk the trail and sit on the rocks in the lagoon, sunning ourselves with the water kissing our feet.
I moved out of the city as I grew a little older and returned to the heart of Richmond for high school. Once again, Texas Beach became one of my favourite places to spend time. In senior year of high school I would skip class with friends on beautiful sunny days to cross the bridge and trek the trail. We'd pack lunches and snacks and swimsuits and lounge by the water until we became so fatigued we had no choice to return home. Some of my most treasured memories have this backdrop.
I chose to revist this special place for my final project with two of my best friends from college. While Charlottesville has its fair share of natural beauty, this is still one of the most unique places to me in the entire world. I take you on a tour of the Texas Beach hike, taking on the new lens of exploring this place through the lens of the original custodians of this land- the indigenous peoples that inhabited it before widespread colonization. Wherever possible, I attempted to escavate some of the deep history of manmade and natural landmarks. Below is also a link to a playlist you might listen to on your walk down the trail, if you choose to experience it with music- all songs are reminiscent of my childhood and adolescence spent by the James River.